Internal & External.

As the days go by my idea is becoming a little clearer, that being said the project also seems to be growing with each day. I have the tendency to do this and I really need to make sure I don’t pass what is humanly capable in regards to funds and time. All I can do for now is make sure I put the hours in researching/blogging any information I find that could be helpful. In my last post I spoke about the artist Gregor Schneider, in this I drew out several inspirations with his use of space. In this post I will now be looking closer at the sound aspect, specifically Diegetic and non – Diegetic. What it is, its uses, and why I am using it.

Sound good?


Diegetic and non – Diegetic is a fairly simple, Diegetic sound is sound that is coming from a source, a source that is part of the scene, lets say for example a printer in an office. Non – Diegetic is a sound that doesn’t belong with the space or the story, for example a boxer is in the ring, instead of hearing him shouting with anguish and violence, we hear a lion roar. It is used to create an idea of emotion or inner thought that drives the story from outside its realms.

Diegetic and non Diegetic methods can be used to create a sense of place or emotion, as well as sound the same classing system can be used for musical scores also. Here are a few examples of both Diegetic and Non -Diegetic sounds/musical scores used within film.


As I explained Diegetic sound is sound that comes from the space. The best example, or at least one of the best is the booting system of the Nostromo from the film Alien.

(Alien, 1979)

When researching online I feel that many people when talking about Diegetic and non-Diegetic sound, seem to skip over Diegetic. For me however I am fascinated by this, maybe it’s because I am looking at it from a sound design perspective but for me it creates the world. I have talked a lot about creating an immersive and real location, this can be achieved to its highest degree through Diegetic sound.

Diegetic (a lot like non-Diegetic) can be used to manipulate audiences, it can blur the lines from what is their, to what isn’t. For example:

(The Innkeepers, 2011)

Upon watching the Innkeepers it really gave me a big influence with manipulation using both Diegetic and non-Diegetic together.


Non-Diegetic is the opposite to Diegetic, this consists of sounds that do not resonate from the story’s universe, such as characters or location. This can be music or a third person narrative. For me non-Diegetic is a component aimed at making the audience feel emotion, instead of the characters, although this statement can be problematic as for me Diegetic has this power also.

(A Clockwork Orange, 1971)

The music score within a Clockwork Orange is classed as Non-Diegetic however, we should not be confused in regards to the voice over. This is very much Diegetic as it comes from the sound of the character.  For this to class as non-Diegetic it would have to be someone not related to the universe, detached from the story.

(The Twilight Zone, 1959)

For this we can take a look at one of my favorite TV shows to date, The Twilight Zone.

Here Rod Serling performs a third person narration, an overview of the story. Doing this he takes ownership and author rights of the piece, it is also used to establish the story and the characters within.

Crossing over

In some films it is not odd to find Diegetic and non-Diegetic crossing over, in doing this we are slipped into the story in a way that doesn’t jar the audience.

(The Simpsons, 1989)


Both can be used as tools within film, with both being able to bring something new to the table. Here is a short video explaining it with visual aide.

(DaVega, 2009)

Upon researching I am very much so interested in Diegetic sound, I wish to look further into this field with more depth, especially looking at external and internal Diegetic sounds.

Future blog coming soon!


A Clockwork Orange. (1971). [film] United Kingdom: Stanley Kubrick.

Alien. (1979). [film] USA: Ridley Scott.

DaVega, S. (2009). Diegetic NonDiegetic. Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2014].

The Innkeepers. (2011). [film] USA: Ti West.

The Simpsons, (1989). [TV programme] Fox.

The Twilight Zone, (1959). [TV programme] CBS.


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